Melanie Mann, is the Principal Category Merchant for Wine at Whole Foods Market. With a relentless dedication to sourcing wines that weave compelling narratives and uphold impeccable quality, Melanie stands at the forefront of crafting a wine selection that resonates with the values of Whole Foods Market’s discerning customers.
In her role as the leader of the team responsible for curating all wines stocked in over 350 stores across the United States, Melanie’s passion for her work shines through in the rich diversity of wines available to Whole Foods Market patrons. Alongside her colleagues she shares a common commitment to delivering a truly memorable wine experience.
One of the pivotal areas of focus for Melanie and her team is the organic and biodynamic sector. Wines crafted with certified organic grapes or eco-certified practices hold a special place in their hearts. However, it’s not merely about certifications or flavors; it involves probing into a winery’s practices related to worker responsibility, social responsibility initiatives, environmental impact, and much more.
Danny Brager has a wealth of experience in the U.S. Beverage Alcohol industry, analyzing trends over many years. He formerly headed Nielsen’s (now known as NIQ) Beverage Alcohol Practice Area in the U.S, leading teams that supported relationships with Nielsen’s clients as well as key industry groups and the media.
In his current consulting role, Danny provides data-driven analysis and insights to Beverage Alcohol companies seeking to translate information into authoritative, fact-based insights in support of their corporate and brand goals. Each year, he presents at many notable industry and company events and is a frequent thought leader contributor to the media/press. His informed opinions are highly respected by the beverage alcohol producers, importers, distributors, retailers, and financiers.
Danny partners with 3 Tier Beverages – a company that facilitates the provision of data, and provides outsourced analytics, is a Special Advisor to the Wine Market Council, and is Managing Director of Category & Consumer Insights at Azur Associates. Azur was founded to bring comprehensive advisory & consulting services – including strategic advisory, mergers & acquisitions, and route to market solutions – to wine and spirits companies.
Danny was born in Calgary, Alberta and moved to Toronto where he graduated from the Schulich School of Business at York University. He relocated to Mission Viejo, California in 1993 where he now resides.
Daren began his career in fine wine wholesale in 1997 working for a couple boutique regional fine wine brokers on California’s Central Coast before transitioning to Young’s Market Company’s newly formed Estates Group fine wine team in 2002. He went on to spend a few years working with the Jackson Family owned wholesaler Regal Wine Company before rejoining The Estates Group in 2012. Most recently he joined Breakthru Beverage in 2020 to lead the ASPECT Fine Wine business unit.
Over his 26-year career in fine wine wholesale he has held roles as Account Manager; Division Manager; Director of Hotels & Venues CA; Director of Marketing and Brand Management CA; Vice President Programming-Wine CA; Vice President, Portfolio Management Estates Group CA; and Senior Director of Business Development, ASPECT Fine Wine at Breakthru Beverage.
Daren is a cum laude graduate of California Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo with a Bachelor of Science in Agribusiness (Marketing). While at Cal Poly, he held a two-year internship at Eberle Winery and was an inaugural member Vines to Wines club. Daren enjoys spending time with his wife and daughter cooking and travelling, watching his daughter compete in equestrian, riding mountain bikes and watching live music.
Henry Danielson is an experienced Space & Cybersecurity strategist. He has successfully been a part of the Interplanetary Networking Special Interest Group (IPNSIG), Academy Working Group (AWG) and the Technical Documentation working group. Mr. Danielson has collaborated with the United States Space Force, Jet Propulsion Laboratories (JPL) , and Space Systems Command to help develop the Space Grand Challenge (SGC), which is a global cybersecurity virtual game-based capture the flag (CTF) competition for middle and high school students. He promotes awareness for middle and high school students all over the country. Mr. Danielson is also on staff with the Aerospace Village to promote Space cybersecurity.
For over twenty years, Henry has been a professor at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. He serves as the Technical Advisor & Curriculum Developer for the California Cybersecurity Institute as well as the Technology Director of the Coast Unified School District. He also guest lectures on Social Engineering and OSINT every quarter at Cal Poly’s Computer Science course Everyday Computer Security. Mr. Danielson holds multiple certifications in cybersecurity.
Additionally, Henry is a GOON at DEF CON; the largest hacking convention in the world. In 2023, he published a book on cybersecurity tools and tactics to combat social engineering.
Essentially weaned and raised in a wine cellar, Cyrille is both family member and dedicated wine sales associate at the esteemed wine retailer, Hi-Time Wine cellars in Costa Mesa, California. Forty years of experience ranging from retailer to broker, tasting room hostess to harvest veteran, and wine educator to oenological attaché. Her reverent irreverence for all things wine, spirits and eats brings a unique and refreshing voice to the ever-evolving world of libations.
Laurel started her Water Board career at the Central Valley Regional Water Board as a stormwater student assistant and in 2008 was hired onto the State Water Resources Control Board Industrial and Construction Stormwater NPDES Permitting program team, which Laurel then managed from 2015-2020. In 2020, Laurel transitioned to her current role as the Waste Discharge Requirements Program Manager primarily involving industrial and sanitation waste discharge requirements for discharges to groundwater in collaboration with the nine Regional Water Quality Control Boards. Laurel holds a B.S. in plant science from UC Santa Cruz and has completed an A.S. in Geographic Information Systems from American River College.
Pat DeLong is the Founder and Principal of Azur Associates. He has over 30 years of experience working with consumer brands across private and public companies. Pat has served in a number of roles including Chief Executive Officer, President, Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer at some of the leading consumer beverage companies, including Crimson Wine Group, Constellation Brands, Robert Mondavi Corporation and Francis Ford Coppola Companies. Pat’s early career includes consulting and advisory work with Deloitte in San Francisco.
Pat’s history as a leader has provided him with significant experience working with Board of Directors and executive management teams on strategic planning, management and organization structure, financing, capital allocation, mergers and acquisitions, route to market strategy and performance management. Pat’s background in mergers and acquisitions includes some of the most significant transactions in the wine space, both on the buy and the sell side.
In addition, Pat has significant experience with public companies and public company BOD’s having served as a public company CEO, CFO and Senior Vice President of Planning and Finance over a 20 year span.
Pat completed the Strategic Planning Executive Program at the University of Michigan, post graduate studies in the Masters of Applied Economics Program at the University of Seattle and his bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Finance & Accounting from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. In his early career, Pat earned his Certified Public Accounting license in both California and Washington.
Pat has served on multiple Board of Directors (BOD’s) in the beverage space. In addition, he has served on college BOD’s including Cal Poly’s Alumni Association where his work there led to his award as Alumni of The Year for the Cal Poly Orfalea College of Business in 2011.
Lee Ann Pearce is a Senior Vice President for Bank of the Sierra located in Templeton, California. Lee Ann leads a team of Ag and Commercial lenders covering the Central Coast, and Commercial Real Estate lending activities for the Western States. Lee Ann also leads Capital Market activities for the bank.
Lee Ann joined The Bank of the Sierra in 2021 after serving as SVP and Manager of the Wells Fargo Food and Ag Institute where she covered wineries nationally. Prior to that time, Lee Ann was a market leader and lender on the Central Coast for more than 20 years with a specialty of lending to wineries and vineyards.
An Ag Business graduate of Cal Poly, SLO, Lee Ann lives with her husband Mark in Templeton California on a small grape vineyard with their 3 dogs. Lee Ann is a past Board Member of the SLO County Farm Bureau, the Templeton Music Boosters, and the Chrysalis House.
William Goebel graduated from Sonoma State University with a degree in Business Administration with a specialty in Wine Business Strategy. Prior to signing on with Turrentine Brokerage, William worked for Trinchero Family Estates, both working in the cellar and administering wine sales.
During his first three years with Turrentine Brokerage, William managed our sample department, provided sales support for the brokerage team and directly handled bulk sales for many clients. William was then promoted to Bulk Wine Broker through his hard work and dedication to the company and our clients. Turrentine Brokerage’s clients have appreciated William’s approachable demeanor combined with his high energy and organization to get things done.
William resides in Sonoma County and enjoys thrashing the local trails on his mountain bike and skiing the slopes in Tahoe with his family.
Founder/Owner of The Vinery, Todd Combs’ expertise is rooted in his passion for wine and finance. With over 15 years of experience, he’s widely recognized as the leading expert for winery and vineyard valuation, along with being a trusted broker/consultant for investors, growers, and wineries. A sought-after presenter and educator, Todd is at the forefront of his field. In addition to being the immediate past president of the California Chapter of the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers (CA-ASFMRA), he also serves as the Co-Chair of the highly regarded Trends in Agricultural Land & Lease Values publication, and authors the Central Coast vineyard section. He’s also a dad of four, a volunteer coach, and a collegiate athlete.